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Erratic bobbin tension (Image courtesy Erich Campbell)

3 Embroidery Machine Mistakes to Avoid

Erich has more than 18 years experience as an award-winning digitizer, e-commerce manager, and industry educator. He empowers decorators to do their best work and achieve a greater success. A current educator and long-time columnist, Erich takes every opportunity to provide value to the industry. Find more information on Erich and his publications here.

If you're experiencing poor embroidery and your designs aren't turning out, it's time to narrow down the cause. To help, here's a breakdown of machine variables that can impact the look of your design. 

Hooping and stabilization: If a garment is hooped too loosely or the operator uses a stabilizer that can't hold up to the stresses of the intended design, they may see some distortion of shapes and bad registration. If the fabric moves excessively in the hoop, the stabilizer is too thin, it isn't stable in all dimensions, or falls apart before the machine finishes the sew out, designs will heavily distort. The base fabric may shift, bunch, and pucker. With cap hooping, not using a large enough piece of stabilizer to attach to the stable vertical posts of the cap frame or not framing the hat in the proper position can cause shifting and distortion as well as crookedness of the final piece.

Thread tension: A poorly tensioned machine or one that has a dirty or obstructed thread path or bobbin spring can cause issues in stitch quality, including loops that erupt from filled areas or bobbin thread visibly pulling up in the design. Tensions must be precisely set and monitored, and thread paths need to be kept clean to avoid quality issues as well as thread breaks and thread tails pulling free from needles after trimming. In the case of too-low top tension or high bottom tension, you may see looping on the reverse, or worse, the notorious birdnesting that seizes production and ruins garments. If you see the bobbin on the top of your design, your bobbin tension is too low, or your top tension is too high. A dirty bobbin spring can lower the tension on the bobbin and cause the same.

Running speed: Running a design at high speeds puts extra stress on the garment. Pull distortion is increased, and there is a higher chance of stitch breakage and breakdown of the stabilizer as it comes to tearaway varieties. Fix small problems with a moderate reduction in running speed.